According to Military.com, Textron Systems, via its subsidiary Howe & Howe, is set to deliver two versions of a new robotic tank to the US Army.
Textron will deliver up to four 10-ton Ripsaw M5 Robotic Combat Vehicle prototypes by the end of this year; each of the tanks will be outfitted with a diesel-hybrid powertrain. An all-electric version of the M5 will be delivered in the first half of 2021 for pilot testing.
"The RIPSAW® M5 is mission-ready," Textron tweeted earlier this month.
The RIPSAW® M5 is mission ready. Visit our virtual booth at #AUSAnow to learn more about M5 and our wide range of products. Register today!https://t.co/4erbcL32Fw#AUSA2020 #TeamRipsaw #WeBuildCoolStuff pic.twitter.com/nKpDHCfjNE— Textron Systems (@TXTSystems) October 3, 2020
Flushed with cash, the Army has been on a modernization spree during President Trump's first term in office.
"We've spent $2.5 trillion over the term in office, my term," Trump recently said. "That's over three and a half years -- think of that $2.5 trillion. I took over a depleted military, old equipment, broken equipment."
During this time, the Army has been searching for a light, medium, and heavy version of fully autonomous tanks to give infantry commanders the option of sending robots into harm's way before human troops. The use of autonomous systems on the modern battlefield could save lives during the next war, if that is against Iran, China, and or Russia.
Sara Willett, program director for ground robotics at Textron, told reporters Thursday that the all-electric M5 will not have a cannon mounted on the turret like the standard M5.
"It's a flat deck variant that we will be delivering for the all-electric version," Willett said.
Michael Howe, senior vice president from Howe & Howe, said, "one of the most exciting points of going all-electric is the performance that we see."
Howe said the M5 is "astonishingly powerful" with two 900-horsepower hybrid electric motors and a diesel range extender.
"This range extender is just a generator, so it goes into the vehicle itself and allows the vehicle to go ... to an extended range of out to 300 to 400 miles," he explained.
In September, Army Futures Command directed the Maneuver Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate at Fort Benning, Georgia, to develop new requirements for electric combat ground vehicles.